Laois people made good use of the ploughing being on their doorstep again this year, with many local traders on stands, and thousands of locals taking a day off to visit it.
Young William Oxley from Stradbally was tired but happy after his day, with celebrity autographs tucked carefully under his tweed flat cap.
“I’ve been here loads of times. Today was grand, I met Bryan Dobson and Brian Ormonde, and I ate food samples everywhere and anywhere,” said the Portlaoise CBS student.
His mother Breda had good reports too.
“It was very well organised, no complaints. The distance you have to walk from the carpark is not a problem, it’s all so close together,” she said.
The Overton family from Killeen also had a good day. Their son Jack uses a wheelchair but access was good.
“It couldn’t have been simpler for something that could have been difficult. We went to the Laois Riding for the Disabled because that’s where Jack goes. There wasn’t a hiccup. There aren’t any disabled changing facilities but the mother and baby tent was fantastic,” said mum Caroline.
Lisa Delaney from Mountmellick was on duty in the Labour party tent, and reported a good week for businesses.
“It was absolutely fantastic for so many locals. Margaret Bradford was number one on the fashion stage this year and makes the effort every year. That’s what it’s all about, promoting your business. Hats off to the ICA and there are lots of little unique businesses doing great and that’s what it’s all about,” she said.
Author of ‘How to Marry a Farmer’ Lorna Sixsmith from Crettyard had a stand in the Laois enterprise tent and sold plenty of her humerous books.
“It went very well, I found the stickers went well, I asked women would you marry a farmer, they could choose I would or I wouldn’t,” said Lorna, herself a farmers wife.
Monsignor John Byrne, PP of Portlaoise Parish was at the ploughing all week, on stage for the opening by President Higgins, and then in the Kildare & Leighlin tent.
“This is a gathering of rural Ireland, and it’s at its best. People are in good spirits. Speaking to some of the people on the stands they are all optimistic. Please God it’s the beginning of a better time for people, and it will trickle down to people most in need,” he said.